Religious faith, spirituality not associated with reduced incidence of T2DM


Author: Kornelia Ilias, Pharm.D. Candidate, Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions

Women who attended a church service had a similar incidence of T2DM compared to those who did not.

Most diabetes research examines the effects of drug therapy and lifestyle choices on T2DM. However, many other psychosocial effects play a vital role in this complicated disease. For example, a previous cross-sectional study found an inverse relationship between the strength of spiritual beliefs and T2DM. [odds ratio (OR)=0.91, confidence interval (CI)=0.87-0.94]. Additionally, a Canadian cross-sectional study found that people who attended religious services more than once a week had a lower prevalence of T2DM compared to people who attended less than once a year (OR = 0, 60, CI = 0.45-0.80). Disconcertingly, another cross-sectional survey found increased risks of T2DM in people attending church services at least once a week (OR = 1.73, CI = 111-2.70) compared to those who did not. were not attending. Researchers in this study conducted a long-term prospective study that examined the relationship between religious adjustment, participation in organized religion, and the occurrence of T2DM.

This fourteen-year study analyzed 42,825 registered nurses living in the United States. He used the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), a biannual questionnaire that collected demographic data. Exclusion criteria included women missing a date of birth (n = 7), diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (n = 2,819), cancer other than melanoma (n = 2,901), T2DM (n = 833 ), another diabetes (n = 316), previous use of diabetes medication (n = 286), no response to religious / spiritual adaptation (R / S) question (n = 825). The survey analyzed the R / S by asking individuals how often they attended church services and found solace in their religion or spiritual beliefs. Women also self-reported any medical diagnosis of T2DM on their biennial questionnaire. An additional questionnaire was sent out, asking for date of diagnosis, symptoms, results of diagnostic tests and hypoglycemic therapy. Researchers examined the correlation between R / S and T2DM using Cox proportional hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Regarding basic characteristics, only women were studied. The participants were predominantly white (94%), with an average age of forty-seven. Most of the women were from high-income households [<$50,000 (13%), $50,000-74,999 (23%), 75,000-99,999 (18%), >100,000 (31%)]; had a BMI of 18.5 to 22.9 (33%), had never smoked cigarettes (67%) and did not consume alcohol (37%). Many respondents attended church service at least once a week (44.9%), and fewer attended it rarely or never (24.6%). Likewise, many used spiritual adaptation (43.3%), and fewer reported never having used it (9.4%).

Researchers found that religion or spirituality was not significantly associated with T2DM. There was no difference between women who never or rarely attended religious services and those who attended less than once a month (HR = 1.06, CI = 0.92-1.22 ), 1 to 3 times per month (HR = 1.00; CI = 0.85-1.17), and once a week (HR = 0.98; CI: 0.85-1.14). In addition, there was no significant change in the effect of R / S adaptation (fully adjusted P interaction = 0.54), attendance at church service (fully adjusted P interaction = 0.63 ) and T2DM.

This prospective cohort study found no association between attendance at church service, religious or spiritual adjustment, and incidence of T2DM. These results were consistent with other smaller studies, including the CARDIA prospective cohort study and the European multinational SHARE prospective cohort study. The strengths of the research include the large sample size, longitudinal design, and fourteen years of follow-up. They also used two measures for R / S adjustment and three measures for church service attendance. The boundaries include demographics, which included mostly white and middle-aged women. Some information was also excluded due to incomplete survey data. Participants who did not answer the R / S questions were more likely not to answer the questions on income and child abuse. There was no distinction between religious denominations, which could have affected the results. The researchers believe that future, high-quality, prospective studies must examine the social mechanisms of action in religion alongside various chronic diseases.

Practice beads:

  • There are conflicting results between associations of church service attendance and the prevalence of T2DM.
  • Researchers found that religion or spirituality was not significantly associated with T2DM. There was no difference between women who never or rarely attended religious services and those who attended less than once a month, 1 to 3 times a month and once a week.
  • Researchers in this study found their results consistent with other smaller studies, including the CARDIA Prospective Cohort Study and the SHARE European Prospective Cohort Study.

Banerjee AT, Boyle MH, Anand SS, Strachan PH, Oremus M. The relationship between attendance at church service and coronary heart disease and associated risk factors in Saskatchewan, Canada. J Relig Health. 2014; 53 (1): 141-56. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22576676/

Spence, Nicholas D, et al. “Religious or spiritual adaptation, attendance at church service, and type 2 diabetes: a prospective study of women in the United States. “Annals of Epidemiology, S1047-2797 (21) 00304-5. Sep 22, 2021, doi: 10.1016 / j.annepidem.2021.09.012.

Author: Kornelia Ilias, Pharm.D. Candidate, Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions


Comments are closed.